The Environmental Protection Agency selected 418 of the nation's worst toxic-waste dumps Monday for cleanup under the much-heralded federal ''Superfund.'' More than 60 percent of the sites were in just 12 states. The list was announced by EPA chief Anne Gorsuch.
The Superfund, sparked by discoveries of hazardous-waste sites such as the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, N.Y., is a congressionally ordered effort to clean up the worst dumps in a five-year period. Some $1.6 billion is committed to finance the effort and to prosecute companies responsible for illegal waste disposal.
Twelve states contain 10 or more of the waste dumps listed by EPA. They are New Jersey, 65; Michigan, 46; Pennsylvania, 30; New York, 26; Florida, 25; Ohio, 19; Massachusetts, 14; Indiana, 13; Illinois and California, 11 each; and Minnesota and Washington, 10 each.
The national priority list was compiled from a scoring system called the ''hazard ranking system,'' the EPA said.
The announcement marks a milestone in the government's effort to protect the environment, but comes while the EPA and its top-ranking officials are embroiled in controversy. Mrs. Gorsuch was cited by the House last week for contempt of Congress by refusing to provide a House subcommittee with internal files on 160 toxic-waste sites. She was acting on President Reagan's orders.